Dior Men: Kim Jones triumphs on the Champ de Mars
There are moments when the stars seem to suddenly, and perfectly, line up for a designer, which is exactly what happened for Kim Jones on Friday night in Paris with a thoroughly excellent show and collection for Dior Men.
One of those fashion moments that seemed to tick all the right boxes. A stellar collection where deft draping, precision tailoring, beguiling accessories, perfect styling and a bold piece of staging all cinch together flawlessly.
The location felt completely right: the Champs de Mars, named after the wide fields where armies used to drill in ancient Rome. For this show was staged with military precision, even as it mixed Parisian soul and history – marking a great victory for Jones.
Dior also built the British designer a brilliant set; an immense black box with a 78-meter moving stairway on which marched the impeccably chosen, multi-racial cast. Fashionable tableaux vivants.
Dior DNA rippled through the collection, but always on Jones’ terms. Take Kim’s spray-painted, punk version of Monsieur Dior animal print Panthère; or the superstitious Christian’s amulets done as CD safety pins. Parisian punk with a fresh attitude.
However, the key was in the brilliant tailoring – done in slate gray, muddy purple and coal hues, cut with classical aplomb and then finished with matching fabric wraps, scarves, cummerbunds and stoles. All the way to the footwork – from modernist spats – another reference to Monsieur – to US expeditionary boots. Sam Peckinpah comes to couture.
Jones has been building towards this triumph for a decade, ever since he arrived as a fledgling talent showing clubbing gear and edgy sportswear. He built up a great head of steam at his previous position at Louis Vuitton, creating a clever vernacular based on mingling the monogram with multiple cultures.
But Jones’ second collection for Dior Men tonight was his apogee.
Kim’s invitation was a soft purse with an illustration recalling the French Revolution, telegraphing his intentions. The image – one of many done by gritty Arizona-born artist Raymond Pettibon – featured a ragged-haired sans-culotte surrounded by a series of phrases, almost like calls to arms: “C’est moi. The manifestation of womanhood. The caricature of Characters. The picture of portraiture. The illustration of illumination.”
Pettibon’s images appeared throughout the collection on sleek cases, dashing tops and backpacks.
Which is what Jones did, ripping apart the codes of Dior, even as he paid homage to them. In the ideal setting, seeing as this was the place where the Revolutionaries staged the Festival of the Supreme Being in 1774; and where an early mayor of Paris was guillotined. Makes the Gilets Jaunes look very tame by comparison, quite frankly.
Jones has perhaps overstated his attachment to all things Dior in many interviews so far; so it was refreshing to see him rebrand the house in his own image. You could tell from the truly enormous applause that tonight he made Dior Men his own.
“I wanted the preciousness and art of couture and the soul of Paris. I wanted truly Parisian,” said Jones in his backstage, after what looks destined to be the standout show on the international menswear season. Hard to imagine anyone topping this.
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